Blast keeps pace with Crunch

17-10 victory over Heat keeps team tied for conference's best record

March 26, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Blast went into last night's game against Harrisburg with two reasons to maintain its momentum going into the NPSL playoffs.

The first was its position alongside Cleveland with the best record in the American Conference. The Crunch had beaten Milwaukee earlier in the day, and the Blast was aware of that before it beat the Heat, 17-10, in front of 7,113 at Baltimore Arena.

The second was its recent good play at home. The Blast (25-16) has won five of its past six games, with winning margins ranging from six to 19 points.

Most of the home wins have been dominating performances, and last night was no exception. The Blast jumped out to a 14-2 first-half lead.

"I thought they had some chances," Blast coach Kevin Healey said. "Unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, we made them pay when they missed their shots. Then we put them away from there."

The win kept the Blast tied with Cleveland for the conference's best record, but the Crunch has the tiebreaker advantage by winning the season series 4-1. Yesterday Cleveland became the second team to win at the Bradley Center this season, 7-6.

Both teams have two of their last three games on the road.

"We knew that they won, so we wanted to keep the pressure on them by continuing to win," forward Tarik Walker said. "Hopefully, if we can keep making them having to pull out games, that will be stress on their bodies as well."

Six Blast players scored goals after Heat forward Bernie Lilavois put his team up 2-0. Two of them were three-pointers, the first from Mark Thomas and the second from Ronnie Simmons that put the Blast up 12-2 five minutes into the second quarter.

"You give up two points at the first half, that's how you win," Healey said.

"Everybody scores on our team. The ball gets knocked around everywhere. The focus really is on winning and winning a championship."

It was not exactly an inspiring performance by the Heat (16-26), which is eliminated from the playoffs. The Heat never pulled its goalkeeper for a sixth attacker, even after cutting the Blast lead to seven with over a minute left.

"They did not look like the Harrisburg that I'm accustomed to," Simmons said.

The relative ease of the victory should help the Blast in its attempt to beat Philadelphia for the sixth time this season today.

"We had five games this week, but so did they," Healey said.

Harrisburg 2 0 4 4 -- 10

Blast 9 5 2 1 -- 17

First period-- 1. Harrisburg, Lilavois 2pt, 4: 16; 2. Blast, Thomas 3pt (Dieter), 5: 53; 3, Blast. Johnson 2pt. (Cabral), 7: 54; 4. Blast, Wright 2pt, 9: 40; 5. Blast, Walker 2pt, 10: 23.

Second period-- 6. Blast, Simmons 3pt, 10: 24; 7. Blast, Cabral 1pt, 13: 11; 8. Blast, Thomas 1pt, 14: 00.

Third period-- 9. Harrisburg, DiFlorio 2pt, 2: 47; 10. Blast, Johnson 2pt (Wright), 7: 51; 11. Harrisburg, DiFlorio 2pt (Marcotrigiano), 12: 26.

Fourth period-- 12. Blast, Cabral 1pt, 4: 40; 13. Harrisburg, DiFlorio 2pt, 5: 19; 14. Harrisburg, Marcotrigiano 2pt (Rodriguez), 13: 36.

Shots on goal--Harrisburg 13-8-9-1242. Blast 10-10-8-836. Power-play opportunities--Harrisburg 0-for-1. Blast 0-for-1. Goalies--Harrisburg, Petras 5-5-3-619. 19 saves. Blast, Hileman 5-3-5-518. 18 saves. A--7,113.

Blast today

Opponent: Philadelphia KiXX

Site: The Spectrum, Philadelphia

Time: 1: 05 p.m.

Radio: WCBM (680 AM)

Outlook: The Blast clinched the East Division with Tuesday's win over Philadelphia, but today's game has significance for playoff seedings. The KiXX is fighting Montreal for the third seed, and the Blast is vying with Cleveland for the top spot in the American Conference. Philadelphia also could also use a boost of confidence; the Blast has dominated the past two games between the teams and has won five of the seven this season. The teams could meet in the first round of the playoffs.

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